Google, Comcast, Josh.ai, and more at the 2018 Connections Conference by Parks Associates
Last week our CEO was in San Francisco speaking at the annual Parks Connections Conference. The conference focused on trends in IoT and the Smart Home, from product development to new and exciting service and business models. One thing thing was certainly clear — the way we consume technology in the home is changing quickly.
“In many fields AI is still theoretical, with exciting potential for what might happen,” said Alex Capecelatro, CEO, Josh.ai. “In the smart home, however, it’s already here. I am excited to discuss on our panel ways in which we’re already implementing AI to solve problems and make the home a more comfortable space, as well as what’s right around the corner.” Source.
More collaboration needed
No surprise here — one of the biggest challenges over the last few years for smart home adoption continues to be a major roadblock. Different manufacturers specialize in different types of product, which is great to help push innovation and bring costs own. The issue is that these products are not typically designed with 3rd party cooperation in mind. Consumers are not willing to invest in connecting their home if they have to buy independent devices that may or may not work well together. Interestingly, many attendees did not vote for “reliable product performance,” which in our mind is still most important.
Voice to the top
Each year that goes by, we see new entrants to the smart home market. What’s interesting, though, is that voice platforms are now the most popular smart home platforms currently being used by consumers. Much credit given to Amazon’s Alexa for raising the awareness of voice and inspiring consumers to try it out and live with it. Note also that 40% of consumers out there don’t use any of the top 10 platforms available. This further contributes to the challenge of smart home adoption. The market is fragmented with no dominant player yet, with too many options for consumers choose from.
Customers say NO to RMR
When it comes to mass market smart home products, consumers are most concerned with the product itself and the service around that product. Specifically, consumers do not want to pay any sort of monthly fee to be able to use their product. It also needs to be easy enough to setup so that hiring a pro installer is not necessary. When building a business model for their product, manufacturers need to consider what exactly the consumer is willing to pay for. One panel had great suggestions when it comes to RMR: offer something tangible each month so it doesn’t feel like you’re just paying for a service. For example, Netflix and Spotify offer new content, Lisa from Nomiku ships actual food with each payment.
As we’ve detailed previously, the interface has evolved a great deal and will continue to do so. Everyone is talking about voice right now (pun intended), but we’ve always believed that voice is just the first step. Technology that reacts to you, without you needing to say anything, is the next phase in the truly natural interface. Big data and artificial intelligence are here. Along with Josh.ai, Audio Analytic, iRobot, and Cognitive Systems spoke on a panel about the future of the smart home, utilizing sophisticated sensors and AI to passively augment the home.
Mark Spates from Google gave a great overview of how the tech giant thinks about incorporating AI into new products. He talked about the reasons to operate local vs in the cloud, arguing it’s more of a business decision around pricing than anything else. Spates also emphasized the idea to be forward thinking so your product is still relevant 2–5 years out, when the state of technology is drastically different than it is today. For a full overview of his talk, Stacey Higginbotham from the Internet of Things Podcast wrote a great post.
With over 600 attendees there was a lot more going on at the CONNECTIONS Conference. Each year we look forward to this event and we highly recommend it if you’re working in the smart home space.